Grade Level Referencing with MAP Test Scores

I recently wrote a post about how to look at MAP test data through a process called "Stop Highlighting" wherein individuals and departments could look at RIT scores and categorize students into groups that were:

a.) Exceeding expectations
b.) At or above grade level expectations
c.) Making progress to, or just under grade level expectations
d.) A concern

A number of districts publish these cut scores in this manner, but you should not "borrow" a districts RIT scale norms as they are referenced with with their specific population.

How to Apply Grade Level Referencing
Another way to look at MAP test data is to determine who is at grade level, who is two grades above grade level, who is below grade level and who is two grades below grade level. Teams can do this with a method called "Grade Level Referencing". Figuring out how to apply grade level referencing is quite easy, although you must be aware of how your school compares to RIT scale norms. NWEA publishes RIT scale norms that can be referenced through their website.

How it works is like this-after printing out your RIT scores, identify the mean average in your subject level by grade. For example, if your average is "219" for grade 7 and you teach grade 7, students just above this mean of 219 are just above grade level and making progress towards grade 8 means.The next step is to identify what the means are in grade 8, 9, 6 and 5 to determine who in your class is a grade or two above or below grade level to provide enrichment or remediation/intervention activities. I decided to use our own math mean scores to reference norms as our school's math scores are above NWEA's published RIT scores and I wanted a high level of academic achievement. Our averages were:

Fall Mean Math RIT scores by grade level
Grade 9-253.3
Grade 8-243.3
Grade 7-239.9
Grade 6-237.8
Grade 5-227.7
Grade 4-213

From this, simply draw lines on your spreadsheet to see how students in your class compare to mean averages in those grades above or below you:

From this, I was able to determine the number of students who were at each grade level. For my breakdown:

2 Grades Above Grade Level-2 Students
1 Grade Above Grade Level-5 Students
At Grade Level-5 Students
1 Grade Below Grade Level-2 Students
2 or More Grades Below Grade Level-9 Students

The bottom 9 students should be targeted for tighter enrichment, monitoring, and consideration for IEP's.

The Most Important Norm to Disclose 
Be very careful in deciding whether to use your school's or published RIT scale norms when identifying student as either at or below grade level. For example, if you use mean scores of your school for grade level referencing, it is important to say that you are using that benchmark. So if you're fifth grader is reading on average at a fifth grade average of XYZ international school be sure to make a point to say "Suzy is reading at the fifth grade norm of XYZ international school".

The problem is when your school is on average performing below world wide RIT scale norms. If your 5th graders are reading at a 4th grade level as indicated by RIT scale norms but reading at a 5th grade level as based on mean scores by your school, be sure to address this discrepancy. There is nothing more confusing to get differing views on this data, so be sure to indicate if students are 1 or two grade levels above or below expected outcomes as reference either by RIT scale norms, or mean scores of your school. It makes sense for a school to be unified in this decision as indicated by administration.

When I indicated that 9 students are 2 or more grades below grade level this was based on grade levels as indicated by our averages, not district norms.Those students in fact are well above norms published by NWEA so be tactful in how you present that data to parents. If parents hear that their children are two grades below grade level, it invites a calamity. However, compared to district norms, their standing was higher.

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